Delta Queen: Come for the Car Wash, Stay for the Charm

When you tell people about the amazing car wash in Campbell, they have every right to be skeptical. A car wash? Really?

The brain child of long time Valley residents Frank and Marilyn Dorsa, Classic Car Wash pioneered a novel approach to getting your car washed. They’ve been in business since the early sixties.

Please join me on a virtual tour:

Delta Queen car wash sign

The Delta Queen Classic Car Wash doesn’t really need a sign, but here it is anyway.

As you enter the lot, you’re greeted with a three-story replica of the Delta Queen. Flags fly, brass shines, and if you close your eyes on a warm summer day, you just might think you’re in New Orleans.

Delta Queen

You and your car enter on the left. The actual car wash runs through the river boat

You pull up along side this beauty where the always-courteous greeter takes your order. Do you want the special? May we add an extra wax and shine? Our service department can probably remove the dent on your bumper. It will only take an extra 15 minutes.

Delta queen gerardo and marcus

Gerardo and Marcus, at your service

How can you say no when you know an extra 15 minutes at the Delta Queen could easily turn into an hour. Here’s why:

After passing through the service area with your car, you cross the entrance to the car wash and climb a narrow ramp. Here are a few novelties on your way.

Delta Queen novelties

Delta Queen novelties

When my boys were small, we waited on the ramp till our car entered the car wash, then raced to the other side to see it move through the wash. The sign below removes any lingering guilt about washing your own car at home.

reclaimed water

Music to our ears in this drought-parched state

My boys also loved spending time racing back and forth on the deck watching the fish and the ducks. If you bring your quarters, you can get a handful of duck treats to toss in the pond.

Delta Queen Duck food

Bring your quarters and feed the ducks and the fish

Now that my boys are teens, they stay home and I head straight for the gift shop, known as the Queen’s Chest. They sell all sorts of delightful treasure including household gifts, greeting cards, clothing and candy.

delta queen gift shop

Entering the gift shop. Don’t worry, they have an ATM

Queens Chest

The lovely Ann gave me a tour of The Queen’s Chest gift shop

Inside the gift shop and a favorite when my boys were young, is a 1700 gallon fish tank.

fish tank

This 1700 gallon fish tank sits just above the jewelry case

Once you’ve browsed the gift shop, looked at the fish tank, and paid for your car wash, you exit through doors leading to a wooden landing. To the left is a small cafe and to the right you’re treated to a view of the duck pond, fountain and the beautiful landscaping.

Delta Queen landscaping

View of the pond, the cafe and the Queen’s Chest

The ducks are there year round, but are especially fun to watch in the spring.

Delta Queen duck crossing

Duck’s crossing

Delta Queen thoughtful bridge for the ducks

A thoughtful bridge for exiting the water (ducks, not guests)

pair of ducks

A pair of ducks enjoy the pond

Delta Queen pond and ducks closeup

Three pair of ducks and a couple of frisky, unpaired mallards

Now that you’ve shopped, enjoyed a beverage, fed the ducks, snapped photos and chatted with people around you, you might momentarily wonder “why am I here?” Oh yeah, I’m getting my car washed.

Delta Queen outdoor waiting area

Lovely outdoor waiting area

Your car is ready by now, but feel free to sit down in the shade and relax. After all, getting your car washed is exhausting.

23 thoughts on “Delta Queen: Come for the Car Wash, Stay for the Charm

  1. The minute you posted this on facebook I wanted to come see it! I wonder if we could get the plane to do a slight detour over San Jose and we could maybe parachute down, just avoiding the duck pond, and land gracefully beside an empty table in the cafe ……. just a thought 🙂

    I’m heartbroken to think I’ll travel all the way to America and not get to see the best car wash in the entire world!! And they use recycled water! Love them ❤

    It will just have to be a California trip next time 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pauline, so many folks were intrigued by that post (or enjoyed reminiscing about it) that I went back a few days later with this post in mind. It really is a little oasis in the middle of an otherwise congested area with multiple lanes of traffic. In my research, I also learned that the couple are philanthropic art lovers, and that Marilyn also designs jewelry. That property is worth a fortune and could have been sold years ago for development. I’m delighted that it is still here and give them lots of business to show my approval.

      Honestly, I wish you could come and stay for a month. California is a beautiful state with so many interesting things to see and do. You would love it.

      So yes, please come back for the car wash and stay for tea and conversation in my garden.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No straightening out to be done at all my dear! I may have shared a photo somewhere because I remember being so amazed. You’ve taken so much care to share amazing photo’s and giggles. The ramp is for the ducks not the customers, LOL. I’m surprised no grad antics have been played out there. Or wedding grooms being made to do silly things (do they do that in the states?) It’s just beyond fantastic and typifies what amazes us northerners about California. It just seems to me that it’s one big playground all year round. Several items in the gift shop caught my eye and I love the seafoam scarf I bought there. I’ve always loved the ducks at the lake and miss them so much. Remember how we were following two thru the parking lot to corral them back to their spot. I think we were afraid they’d be in danger from motorists but the guys there were laughing at us. Probably thinking, “crazy ladies, those ducks are here everyday”. Too bad I don’t speak spanish, I’d like to know what they were saying, LOL. I enjoyed hearing all about the boys, they’ve grown a ton since I only met them. I bet it seems like just yesterday for you. Off I go again, xoxo love this post & you!


  2. Alys, all these wonderful memories and flashback came to me of visits to see you, too long ago. You know how I loved the Delta Queen and especially that gift shop. Love & hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, that sounds like quite an outing! Love the look of that gift shop, and the look of the actual building too. And the ducks and fountain and everything are lovely! I would probably be so dazzled by it all I’d forget the car and start walking home! LOL!


  4. What a stroke of pure marketing genius! They look like they love what they are doing in addition to being quite brilliant. That place I think is the most fun car wash I have seen and I have seen MANY! They make it an experience rather than a chore. That would be worth the drive through San Jose traffic. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How fun is that! I have never heard of this place. I’ve been in the Santa Clara Valley many times and in fact used to live in the area in the early seventies. Makes me want to go get my car washed (and you can be sure it really needs it)!😀


  6. Forget Disneyland on my trip to the U.S. (one day!), I want to go here! Our Aussie car wash owners could learn a lot from this amazing place! A replica boat, a gift shop, coffee – I’d be there all day, every day! LOL! Love this post, Alys. Thanks for the tour!xoxoxox


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